Argentina, Spain advance to semi-finals with ease

August 30th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Argentina, Spain advance to semi-finals with ease


SAITAMA, JAPAN -- Olympic champion Argentina thrashed Turkey 83-58 to reach the semi-finals of the world basketball championship yesterday.
The Athens gold medalists in 2004 will take on Spain on Friday, after forward Andres Nocioni of the National Basketball Association's Chicago Bulls led a rout of Turkey with 21 points at Saitama Super Arena.
"That was the best we've played in this tournament," Nocioni said. "Argentina played wonderful basketball, but we still have to play better and stay together -- not just me and [NBA guard Manu] Ginobili, everyone."
Spain, led by 25 points from Pau Gasol of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, crushed Lithuania 89-67 to reach the semis.
getSLinks("topStoriesInSection","LAC.20060830.HOOP S30",5);"What matters is, Spain is going to the semi-finals," Spanish guard Jose Calderon said. "This is big weight off our shoulders."
Spain has never set foot on the world championship podium and can point to a silver medal at the boycott-ravaged Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 as its only international success.
Argentina's experienced players were never threatened by the young Turkish team and stormed to a 43-23 halftime lead, which they stretched to a 35-point advantage after three quarters.
Carlos Delfino added 14 points and Luis Scola 13 for Argentina, which finished second to Serbia and Montenegro at the previous world championship in Indianapolis, Ind., four years ago.
"Before the game, we thought it would be more difficult," Argentine coach Sergio Hernandez said. "We played our best defence of the tournament and got lots of easy shots."
"Argentina demonstrated 100 times the great mentality of their team," Turkish coach Bogdan Tanjevic said. "It's something I would like to see from my team."
The showdown between Argentina and Spain promises to be close.
"Both teams are two of the best teams in the world," Hernandez said. "Both are similar teams with smart players. It will be a great, great game."
Spain has recent history on its side, having beaten the Olympic champion twice in quick succession in the buildup to the championship.
"The record is not a good thing for us," Argentine centre Fabricio Oberto said. "To lose twice to Spain before the tournament is not good. We have got to be better. It is going to be very tough, they are a very good team."
Argentina and Spain have looked like the teams most capable of challenging the United States, the tournament favourite.
The United States will play Germany in quarter-final action today, while Greece will take on France.